The House of Wisdom contained so many books that the Tigris River turned black from ink when they were destroyed

The House of Wisdom: Baghdad's Intellectual Powerhouse - 1001 Inventions
http://1001 Inventions

It seems that whenever we look back at our history, we can observe the glorious times; so-called Golden Age, and also inglorious times; so-called Dark Age. Most of the latter comes not only because of the religions but of human’s short-sighted, the prejudice and bigotry (fanaticism). In the western countries is the famous Middle Age but it could, more or less, be rescued from annihilation (Renaissance) though, the catastrophe which took part in the orient is not known so well. What we will read here, is the outcoming of the destruction of a worthy culture which all are results of the mentioned reasons above and unfortunately, it is still continual!

It’s really fascinating, how in Orient there was so much knowledge on the way and how much higher it could go and yet, and how sad it is that they mostly were vanished in Tigris.

By SearchingTheMeaningOfLife with thanks 🙏🙏 from Greek.

Scholars in the Library, Baghdad 1237 – source

In the 9th century AD, during the Abbasid period, there was the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, a library and a translation house. The library contained manuscripts of mathematics, astronomy, various sciences, medicine and philosophy from Persia, India and Greece. It also had astronomical observatories, chemistry and alchemy laboratories, and a science study centre.

The House was created by the Abbasid caliphs Harun al Rashid and his son al-Mamun. Al-Rashid began collecting books in Damascus, Syria – when Damascus was the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate at the same time. With this collection, al-Rashid opened a library and named it “Bayt al-Hikma” which in Arabic means “Wisdom Bookstore”.

Thirsty for the science, philosophy, and knowledge of the world, al-Rashid, and later his son al-Mamun, hired Persian and Christian scholars to translate the works into Arabic to develop new knowledge. The library contained works on medicine, alchemy, physics, mathematics, astrology, geography, mapping, zoology, philosophy and other sciences.

In 750 the Umayyad dynasty was replaced by the Abbasid dynasty. In 762, the second Abbasid caliph al-Mansour built Baghdad and made it his capital. Baghdad was a great location for a stable shopping and spiritual centre. Al-Amin succeeded al-Rashid’s father and continued the tradition of translating texts from Greek, Chinese, Sanskrit, Persian and Syriac.

The House of Wisdom: Baghdad's Intellectual Powerhouse - 1001 Inventions
http://1001 Inventions The circular city of Baghdad

The entire collection of books was transferred to Baghdad, where the same library was established, only this time in a huge palace. Everyone had access to it and everyone could be trained there. The library and its work were supported by everyone, even merchants and the military. Anyone could bring some innovation or a new document. The main activity was the translation of the texts into Arabic, but it was also used for the study. Many engineers and architects in large constructions came from the House of Wisdom. It was the academic centre of the Islamic world.

During al-Mamun’s reign, huge sums of money had been invested in the library and teaching. He personally organized groups of scholars to do research projects to satisfy his personal intellectual needs. Some of his personal works were the mapping of the world, the confirmation of the data of Almagest (the largest and most important astronomical book of Antiquity, whose authority was preserved until the 16th century) and the calculation of the actual size of the Earth. He also participated in excavations in the pyramids of Giza and encouraged scholars to study Egyptology.

The work of the House of Wisdom continued at the same pace during the reigns of the successors of al-Mamun, al-Mutasim, and his son al-Wathik, but declined significantly when al-Mutawakil became caliph, who did have not interested in science and suspended all scientific work carried out in the House of Wisdom. He promoted a more literal interpretation of the Qur’an and Hadith and believed that Greek philosophy was anti-Islamic.

Siege of Baghdad (1258) - Wikipedia
The siege of Baghdad by Ulaghu Khan – source

The character of the library has changed completely. Instead of translations by scientists and philosophers, only disciplines related to Islam were translated and taught. In 1258, the city was looted and destroyed by the Mongols of the Ulagan Khan army. Along with the House of Wisdom.

Although, the Persian scholar and prolific writer Nasir al-Din al-Tusi; (he was an architect, astronomer, biologist, chemist, mathematician, philosopher, physician, physicist, scientist and theologian) managed to save about 400,000 manuscripts which he transported to Mara before the siege. The rest of the books had were thrown into the Tigris River. How so many books were destroyed is not known, but it is written that the river is blackened by their ink.

source: /

19 thoughts on “The House of Wisdom contained so many books that the Tigris River turned black from ink when they were destroyed

  1. Fabulous article Aladin! Those damn book assassins have been destroying our books for thousands of years. For the deeply poetic image of a river running black with the ink of thousands of manuscripts reminds me of what dictators do in order to rewrite a country, nation or tribe’s history and culture. Warm winter wishes, Deborah.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I could feel the pain between your lines, as I’ve found the same. It is really aching, I would wish that the Technic could be developed so far, that it gathers all these black ink, together in words again, though they are all wasted. Thank you my lovely one for your being there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Elaine Mansfield

    Fascinating. We’ve had an anti-science “caliph” in the United States for the last 4 years. It’s amazing how much destruction can be done in a short time. They haven’t burned the books so far, but make them unavailable. I knew nothing about the library in Bhagdad, but I’m not surprised. I know a little more about the earlier library in Alexandria that was burned by the Romans if I remember correctly. The waters run black with ink and red with blood. Humans don’t seem to learn much from their history. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 2 people

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